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Pocket Outdoor Media Makes Moves to Take Over the Outdoor News Industry

Warren Miller Entertainment has been acquired by Pocket Outdoor Media.
Warren Miller Entertainment has been acquired by Pocket Outdoor Media.
Warren Miller
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Boulder's Pocket Outdoor Media keeps growing.

POM's latest acquisitions are the Healthy Living, Fitness and Outdoor divisions of Active Interest Media, which include the ski-documentary production house Warren Miller Entertainment, Yoga Journal, SKI, Climbing, BACKPACKER, Oxygen, IDEA Health and Fitness Association, Clean Eating, Vegetarian Times, Better Nutrition, NatuRx, Muscle & Performance, Nastar Racing, Fly Fishing Film Tour, National Park Trips and SNEWS.

POM is already behind VeloNews, Women’s Running, Triathlete, PodiumRunner, Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, VeloPress magazines and the Roll Massif event production company.

Many of the new acquisitions are legacy companies with decades in the industry. For example, Warren Miller Entertainment was founded by namesake Warren Miller, who started making ski films back in 1941 with Deep and Light, and spent the next five decades releasing at least one film per year, a tradition the company continued after he sold it in 2004. Few have captured the grandeur of the Rockies or the spirit of ski and snow-board culture better. Miller died at age 93 in 2018, but his film company lives on.

"The strength of these collective brands positions us to build the premier active lifestyle media destination to meet the needs and interest of our readers on a daily basis, whether they’re beginners or experts — looking for a training plan, healthy recipe, event coverage, nutrition advice, injury prevention and more,” explains Robin Thurston, CEO of Pocket Outdoor Media, in a statement announcing the deal. “Our mission is to inspire people to do the activities they love — yoga, ride, cook, ski, run, swim, hike, climb — with greater enjoyment and knowledge.”

The announcement was made shortly after NEXT VENTURES, Zone 5 Ventures and JAZZ Venture Partners, a San Francisco-based global investment firm, invested money in POM, signaling that the company and these properties, many of which started as crusty passion projects, were going corporate.

Along with the acquisitions and investments, POM also announced its Active Pass membership program, which will give members access to various VeloPress books, magazine subscriptions and events without having to subscribe to all the outlets.

Warren Miller in the early days of filmmaking.EXPAND
Warren Miller in the early days of filmmaking.
Warren Miller Entertainment

“The synergies of these iconic brands, some of which have been around for over fifty years, uniquely enables Pocket Outdoor Media to deliver an integrated experience never seen before,” said John Spinale, managing partner at JAZZ Venture Partners. “They have already developed a personalized newsfeed and membership experience that allows readers to access content across the POM brands, and it will only be bolstered as they add the AIM businesses to the experience.”

The acquisition comes at a time when media devoted to the outdoors is struggling. BACKPACKER canceled its June and July issue, with the editor warning customers to stay off the trails in the face of COVID-19 in a story called "A Hiker's Guide to Not Hiking." (The magazine recently rolled back that position with a cautious explainer about how to hike during the pandemic.) Ad budgets have taken a hit as live events and races have been canceled, parks have closed and reopened with restrictions, and companies' marketing budgets have been slashed.

Still, both AIM's CEO and POM express enthusiasm about the acquisition.

“After getting to know Robin and the Pocket Outdoor Media team, it was clear that we share a great commitment to the communities we serve in Outdoor, Fitness, and Wellness," notes Andy Clurman, CEO of Active Interest Media in the acquisition statement. "Our alignment around our shared values, strategy, and Boulder location made this a natural fit for our people and brands. Pocket’s new technology platform unifies, personalizes, and syndicates the best content around the customer journey. Combining their personalization platform with their membership strategy felt like a home run for the brands and team members of AIM’s Outdoor, Fitness, and Active Lifestyle divisions."

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